Study Guide

Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 5

By Leo Tolstoy

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Part 1, Chapter 5

  • We find out that Oblonsky got his job through a family connection (his sister Anna's husband). Even if that job hadn't been available, someone else would have helped him out, because he's well-connected.
  • Apparently, Oblonsky knows half of Moscow and St. Petersburg. He's a great guy and everyone likes him. And besides, that's just how things work in 1870s Russian society: cronyism everywhere.
  • Everyone, everywhere, likes Prince Oblonsky, primarily for three reasons: 1) since he knows his own faults, he's extremely willing to forgive everyone else for theirs; 2) he behaves in an egalitarian fashion, meaning that he treats everyone the same, and 3) he never gets excited about his job and he never makes mistakes.
  • During his council meeting, there is activity at the door.
  • Oblonsky wants to know who's there.
  • The doorkeeper points out a big man with a curly beard and a sheepskin hat, whom Oblonsky greets with great affection.
  • The man turns out to be Constantine Levin (keep your eye on this character—he's one of the major protagonists).
  • Oblonsky and Levin are childhood friends who took different paths in life. Oblonsky is urbane and self-assured, while Levin lives in the country and is socially awkward and shy.
  • A characteristically awkward social encounter occurs when Levin is introduced to Oblonsky's colleagues, Philip Nikitin and Michael Grinevich.
  • Levin is described as a member of District Council, a cattle breeder, and a hunter. He is also introduced as Sergius Koznyshev's brother. (Sergius Koznyshev is a well-known writer.) Levin isn't too pleased about this last bit, because he hates being known as the "brother of Sergius Koznyshev."
  • Also, it turns out that he has quit the District Council.
  • Levin blushes furiously when Oblonsky notes that Levin is wearing a new French suit. Levin then insists that the two of them have a private chat.
  • After Oblonsky suggests dinner, Levin demurs, arguing that he doesn't have that much to say.
  • So Oblonsky tells Levin to say what he needs to say.
  • Levin becomes shy, and then finally asks what the Shcherbatskys (those are Oblonsky's in-laws) are up to.
  • Oblonsky knows that Levin is in love with Kitty, the youngest Shcherbatsky girl, (who also happens to be Dolly's younger sister.)
  • Oblonsky tells Levin that he can't give a short answer to the question.
  • They agree to talk later. Levin blushes a lot.
  • Oblonsky tells Levin to go to the zoo where Kitty skates. Oblonsky will pick Levin up for dinner there.
  • Levin dashes out, realizing later that he forgot to say good-bye to Oblonsky's colleagues.
  • We also find out that Levin owns six thousand acres of land in the Karazin District.

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